05/02/2017, 12.05
MYANMAR - BANGLADESH - CHINA
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Rohingya crisis, Myanmar rejects the Chinese mediation offer

Naypyidaw does not want external interference in the resolution of the dispute concerning the Muslim minority inside. Spokesperson Aung San Suu Kyi: "We will resolve the issue bilaterally". Beijing’s interest masks the construction of a $ 1.5 billion oil pipeline.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government of majority Buddhist Myanmar has rejected the mediation offer with Bangladesh advanced by Beijing to resolve the ongoing issue of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

A spokeswoman for Naypyidaw's executive says it does not want external influences, or the powerful Chinese neighbor's intervention to resolve one of the biggest domestic problems in the country, involving the same Nobel Laureate and current Foreign Minister and Government Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

In recent months, violent clashes have increased between the Myanmar military and what they call "a militant group of Muslim Rohingya" in Rakhine State. The Rohingya are a Muslim group of just over one million people, originally from Bangladesh who live mostly in refugee camps scattered across Myanmar. The latter has refused to grant them citizenship.

Since early last October, at least 90 people have been killed and about 34,000 have been displaced. Meanwhile, the military continue to go from village to village to clear the territory of rebel elements. The Rohingya have complained of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, rapes, houses torched in a what the government has called “clearance operations” intended to strike those who have attacked Myanmar security forces.

In recent days, China offered itself as a mediator between Myanmar and Bangladesh, while tens of thousands of people continue to live in critical conditions in refugee camps near the border between the two countries. So far Naypyidaw and Dhaka have not reached an agreement on the management and care of the Muslim minority.

Zaw Htay, spokesperson for the Cabinet of State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, stressed that "Myanmar and Bangladesh are already trying to solve the Rakhine question." The Burmese government's policy, he added, is to "resolve this issue bilaterally between Myanmar and Bangladesh" without external interference or third-party intervention.

"We can understand China's offer for mediation," the spokesman concludes, "because it has interests in the region, starting with the Kyaukphyu pipeline. However, as I said in the past, our idea is to settle the dispute between us."

In short, the Burmese government responds to Beijing's offerings just as China responds to foreign powers when interests or issues are at stake – such Tibetan Buddhism or controversy in the eastern and southern China Sea -  by means of the principle of non-external interference.

In this case, Beijing intends to intervene not out of humanitarian concern, but out a mere economic and commercial interest. There is the pipeline linking the harbor town of Kyaukphyu, in the bay of Bengal, with the city of Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province at stake. A strategic project worth around $ 1.5 billion.

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